Friday, 25 May 2012

Mushroom and broccoli mini quiches

This week I made a batch of mushroom and broccoli mini quiches.  These are delicious eaten hot or cold, and they freeze really well too!  I made mine gluten-free using all purpose white mix - but you could easily use normal flour instead if that suits you!

I use Glutafin's spinach and ricotta tartlets recipe to make my gluten-free pastry.

The pastry is rolled out and cut into rounds.

I'd cooked extra broccoli and mushrooms the night before so these were ready and waiting in the fridge.

I choppped up the mushrooms and the broccoli into fairly small chunks.

A wee spoonful of these into each little pastry case...

A sprinkling of mature cheddar on top...

Each quiche topped up with a mix of beaten egg with a splash of cream (as I had some left over in the fridge).

The last scraps of pastry were made into a mini quiche using a small foil dish.

After 15-20 minutes in the oven, the quiches are ready.

This one was eaten hot from the oven, with coleslaw on the side.  Delicious!

Best Wishes

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Extreme housework!

Yesterday was a day of extreme housework - well, as extreme as an 8-months pregnant woman can manage!  Extreme in that I managed to accomplish some of those tasks that hang around on the To Do list forever - copied over from one To Do list to another and never quite seeming a priority!  Also extreme in that I managed to resist the lure of the sunshine in the garden and spend a productive day indoors tackling some of the long-overdue jobs that I'd been promising myself I would do when on maternity leave.

I washed curtains and dried them out on the line.  They were coming down anyway as we'll shortly be painting that room - so an ideal opportunity to freshen them up before storing them away in the linen cupboard for future use.

I took the Dyson apart and cleaned all the filters and connecting pieces.  This was a long overdue task!  We've been doing a lot of work in the house recently involving sanding and wood - so the Dyson has certainly been put through its paces of late!

I cleaned out the washing machine drawer.  It never ceases to amaze me how manky it gets in there!  Seriously - this time I will keep on top of this - it would be so much easier to give it a freshen up every few weeks rather than once or twice a year!  The drawer had got into a state where only scrubbing with an old toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies was going to get it clean!!

I cleared everything out from under my stepson's bed and found an array of bits and pieces - lots of pieces of lego, toy soldiers and crayons.  All of these were returned to their right places!  I sorted out the play doh stash and discarded all the dried out lumps lying in the bottom of the box.  I repaired all the boxes that the board games are stored in - using masking tape to stick the corners and the rips back together.

By the end of the day I was satisfied that I had made a good dent in my To Do list! 

I'm sure you all have tasks that lurk around from one To Do list to another that you never quite get round to!

Best Wishes

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Supporting Coeliac Awareness Week!

As I have Coeliac disease I always try to do my bit to support Coeliac Awareness Week.  This year I really pushed the boat out and ate out not once... but twice!

Eating out as a Coeliac can be frought with peril due to a lack of understanding by some eateries as to what "gluten-free" actually means.  This is what puts me off eating out - but it's also why Coeliac Awareness Week is so important, as it raises awareness of Coeliac disease and highlights the requirements of those of us with this condition.  If Coeliacs don't get out there and eat out, we'll never see an improvement in the choice and selection available to us and be able to feel confident in the choices we are making.

So!  I geared myself up for two dining experiences last week.

I think it's probably important to highlight here that I have probably eaten out in a restaurant only two or three times this year - if you're lucky!  Risking gluten-poisoning fills me with dread and takes all the pleasure out of the dining experience for me.  So to eat out twice in one week was a challenge for me in itself!

For our first outing we went to our local College to have lunch in their hospitality training restaurant.  Every year they do a gluten-free lunch as part of Coeliac Awareness week and I try my best to go along and support it.  This year was the busiest yet and the restaurant was absolutely crammed full! 

The entire menu was devised to be completely gluten-free and suitable for Coeliacs.  Starter options were sweet potato and roasted red pepper soup or tomato and mozzarella stack.  Main courses were a choice of chicken stuffed with cheese and pepper sauce on a bed of tagliatelle, salmon and asparagus fish cakes, or mushroom and pea risotto.  Dessert was white chocolate cheesecake, or sticky toffee pudding with custard.

Yes, I did just actually say sticky toffee pudding.  Here is the photographic evidence:

I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  There were 8 of us in our group - four of us Coeliacs - and we all opted for the sticky toffee pudding option.  The non-Coeliacs couldn't tell that there was anything gluten-free about this dessert - they found it to be as delicious as we did!  Definitely the highlight of my week.  I'd be tempted to go further and say the highlight of my year - culinary-wise, at least!  If you are a fellow Coeliac then you may just understand!

I have since emailed the College and requested the recipe - if they share, I'll pass this on!

The second of my dining experiences was to a local grill restaurant.  I'd heard on the grapevine from a Coeliac friend that this restaurant offered a gluten-free menu and I was keen to put this to the test.  I contacted the restaurant in advance to check, and the proprietor offered to email me a copy of their gluten-free menu for my perusal.  They also advised that, with 24 hours' notice, they could arrange for a gluten-free burger to be supplied from their butcher. 

The menu was varied and included a really good selection - I was impressed that they recommended potatoes as a side dish rather than chips as they could not guarantee there would be no cross-contamination with their fryers even though the oil would be changed.  To me this indicated that they had a good awareness of Coeliac requirements.

We were having lunch so I opted for a baked potato with chilli con carne, cheese and side salad.  I checked with the server that the chilli was gluten-free before ordering and she seemed clued up as to what I was taking about, which was a pleasant change.  The food was delicious and well cooked, and no gluten poisoning for me - result!

The restuarant proprietor also advised me that they are working on devising a dairy-free menu too so they can accommodate as many dietary requirements as possible.  It's fantastic to hear that the hospitality industry is taking notice of these conditions.

Overall I had a lovely time eating out as part of Coeliac Awareness Week and despite some reservations and nervousness about the experience I'd say my confidence has grown somewhat and I'll be less apprehensive when eating out the next time!

I hope those of you who also took part in Coeliac Awareness Week enjoyed your experiences too. 

Best Wishes

You can read more about Coeliac Awareness Week and Coeliac disease on the Coeliac UK website.

My beloved recipe book...

A few years ago I was given this lovely recipe book for storing all my favourite recipes.  I have always loved to collect recipes on my travels and even if I don't have time to try them there and then, I like to store them for later.  This book has tabbed sections, with pages for writing in recipes and plastic pockets for cut outs.

When I'm planning my meals for the week ahead and writing my shopping list, I'll often have a peek in my recipe book to see if there's something new in there that I fancy trying out.  In addition, if I have an abundance of something in the fridge that needs using up (e.g. broccoli), I'll have a look in my book for a broccoli-related recipe and plan my meals around that. 

There's years and years of inspiration in my book.  Most of my recipes have been cut out from magazines - the free ones you get from the supermarkets - or written in to the book from websites I've visited.  It's great to have a recipe book to hand where every recipe in it is one you'd be interested in having a go with!

As I'm on my travels I cut out and keep interesting recipes and food ideas, and they are slipped under the front cover of my recipe book.  Once I have a wee bundle in there I sit down with a cup of tea and stick all my recipes into the right sections so I can refer to them later.

Since being diagnosed with Coeliac disease I've had the challenge of converting my favourite recipes to gluten-free versions.  Some things take longer to master than others; but I am getting there!

Best Wishes

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A finished quilt!

As is probably the case with many crafters, I have lots of half-finished projects on the go at any one time.  I'm full of enthusiasm and ideas to begin with, but I'm easily distracted by the next good idea and off I go to start on that!  Well, with the baby's arrival due soon (5 weeks), I am trying to finish up all my "sewing machine" projects, so I can move my Singer and my fabric box out of the living room and tuck them away in a cupboard for a while.  I suspect with caring for a newborn, I'll have little time for big sewing projects for a wee while at least!

This was one of the first quilting projects I started; I wanted to make something for the baby that was both brightly coloured and practical.  I'll probably use the quilt more as a playmat than a cover for the baby's bed - but we'll see!  Up until last week I'd got as far as sewing the squares together for the central panel.  I'd wanted to add some ribbon loops to my quilt, so the project was put on hold until I'd had the opportunity to purchase some red, blue and yellow ribbon.

I used red thread to quilt so it shows up really well, and I used a diagonal pattern rather than "in-the-ditch".  I pretty much make this up as I go along!

I'm really happy with this cheery, colourful quilt.  It's not perfect; but I made it myself and I'm proud of my efforts!

The moses basket is now set up and ready in our bedroom for the baby's arrival.  My daughter donated a couple of her old soft toys from her baby years - she thought it would be nice for her new little brother or sister to have something that was special to her.  I was very touched!  These well-loved toys have been freshly laundered and are waiting patiently on the baby's arrival too!

Now, on to the next unfinished project...!

Best Wishes

Monday, 14 May 2012

Turkey, bacon and leek meatballs...

Last week I had a go at making some turkey meatballs for a change.  This was the first time I'd ever made meatballs; to be honest I just made it up as I went along!

Here's what I did:

I made breadcrumbs using a DS gluten-free ciabatta roll as I happened to have one of those kicking around in the freezer.  Using a frozen bread roll makes grating so much easier (I don't have a food processor, so I hand-grate bread to make breadcrumbs).  In a large bowl I added the breadcrumbs, a beaten egg, 500g of turkey mince, half a finely chopped leek, some chopped garlic (using pre-prepared garlic cloves) and some seasoning.  I also added a chopped rasher of bacon as I had one lonely slice left in the fridge!

I mixed the lot together by hand (ah, how I wish I had a food processor!) and shaped the mixture into balls.  Out of my mix I got 18 meatballs.

I then sizzled the meatballs in the frying pan for a few minutes to ensure they were sealed and browned all over, before cooking in the oven for 20 minutes or so.

We ate our meatballs warmed later, with salad and coleslaw, just as they were without any sauce.  They were very tasty indeed!  The following day we went out in the car and I brought some of the meatballs along in our packed lunches - they were also delicious cold.  Result!

Best Wishes